And now, the thumbs of Chicagoans get a well-deserved break.
White Sox ace Chris Sale and Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo have been named to the AL and NL All-Star teams after a feverish four days of text messages, online vote and tweets as part of MLB's Final Vote campaign.
Chicago ruled, getting the biggest chunk of the 52.5 million votes cast and sending two deserving players to the MLB All-Star game in Minneapolis next Tuesday. Sale has the best ERA in the AL, while Rizzo's 20 homers are second in the NL.
The six-hour final flurry of Twitter votes Thursday was incredible. Each player was assigned a hashtag (#TargetSale, for example) and each use of that hashtag counted as a vote. That hashtagmania accounted for a quarter of all the votes cast, as fans averaged 65,000 votes per minute.
Here's a breakdown of the final vote tally, per MLB:
On the NL ballot, Rizzo passed Justin Morneau (Colorado) on Wednesday night and ultimately held off both Morneau and the leading Twitter vote-getter, Justin Upton (Atlanta). Rizzo received 8.8 million votes and became the first Cubs player to win the All-Star MLB.com Final Vote. The top three were followed by Anthony Rendon (Washington) and Casey McGehee (Miami).
The AL winner, Sale, became the fourth White Sox player to win the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote, using his 6.7 million votes to join Paul Konerko (2011); A.J. Pierzynski (2006); and Scott Podsednik (2005) as Chicago’s South Side winners. Sale held off a late charge from Garrett Richards, who trailed only Upton in Twitter voting. Fellow AL starting pitchers Rick Porcello (Detroit), Corey Kluber (Cleveland) and Dallas Keuchel (Houston) followed Sale and Richards.
No surprise for Sale, who is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. He essentially led the Final Vote from start to finish. Meanwhile, Rizzo had to overtake Morneau, who had the support of Colorado (where he plays for the Rockies), Minnesota (where he was an MVP for Twins) and Canada (where he's from).
Morneau getting back to Target Field as an All-Star would have been a nice story, and there's still time for it to happen outside of the Final Vote campaign. All-Stars will be added to the teams in the coming days as others drop off the team.
Erick Aybar, for instance, was named as a replacement for Alex Gordon on Thursday afternoon (and deservedly so). A couple of the pitchers that Sale topped (especially Richards) still could make the All-Star game that way too.
The All-Star roster jumbling surely isn't over, but thankfully the Twitter hastags are.
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